Articles and publications written by the CCC about the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

Preparing for the next virus

The Consumer Choice Center’s Fred Roeder and Maria Chaplia report on a recent event that looked at why the EU must safeguard intellectual property rights to prepare for future pandemics.

COVID-19 took its toll on millions of people and even more are suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic. Instead of increasing our pandemic preparedness, we are seeing more and more populist calls, both at EU and Member State level, for the erosion of intellectual property (IP) rights, jeopardising the future of innovation. COVID-19 is likely only the first of many public health crises we will encounter in the next decades, and we need to keep innovators incentivised and provide them with legislative certainty. The EU has to commit to the protection of IP rights and champion it not just at home, but globally through EU trade policy.

Policies enacted during the pandemic have predominantly come as kneejerk reactions to issues on the ground, rather than well thought out plans. As we have witnessed in the case of lockdowns and trade restrictions, acting fast without considering long-term costs can be devastating. At a global level, that also involves continuous calls for the extension of the TRIPS waiver, a clause that would allow World Trade Organization members to lift protections on certain intellectual property rights.

Rushing such decisions could imperil entire generations. Safeguarding IP rights is our only chance to make it possible for patients who will one day be diagnosed with incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, or HIV/AIDS, to ever be cured.

“There are simply not enough doses of vaccines, and the vision of the EU future should be not only green and digital, but also resilient,” Franc Bogovič MEP (SI, EPP)

European policymakers should put their pursuit of short-term approval from the voters aside and reconsider the role of intellectual property rights in preventing future pandemics and, overall, what could have been done better. This was one of the key questions of an online discussion between Franc Bogovic MEP and James Tumbridge, Common Councilman of the City of London, that we at the Consumer Choice Center hosted on 19 February.

COVID-19 in Europe: Is the EU losing the vaccine race?

When it comes to Covid vaccinations, Germany stands accused of buying up extra doses, while other EU countries simply aren’t taking all the doses they’re allowed.

Is the financial muscle of Germany at play here as the country is said to be looking after its own interests at the expense of others?

The Consumer Choice Center Managing Director Fred Roeder joined the Roundtable show at TRT World to discuss #COVID19 and #vaccines in #Europe.

There’s no scientific need to expose Australians to suffering. We need vaccine reciprocity now

Getty Images

As the city of Brisbane once again goes into full lockdown, borders remain closed, and businesses nation-wide are being decimated, the Australian bureaucracy still refuses to allow its citizens access to the Covid-19 vaccine citing their own approval timetable. The good news is that the fix is easier than many think, and includes valuable lessons for any future pandemic Australia may face.  

With merely 28,000 cases and fewer than 1,000 deaths, Australia has been fairly well shielded from this global pandemic. But the price individuals and the whole economy paid for this is high: Australians are not allowed to leave the country, while tens of thousands of Australians are stranded overseas, unable to return home. Thousands of businesses have closed, and the tourism and hospitality industries have been devastated. State border closures have led to tragedies such as twin babies dying as border closures prevented the mother from giving birth at a hospital near her. Another mother miscarried after border closures prevented her from accessing immediate medical care. Other families were prevented from visiting their children in intensive care, and the list goes on.  

Bizarrely however, Australia’s government and regulatory bodies seem to be content with this strategy and seem to have no desire to get society back to normal. Until last week, the federal government was not contemplating rolling out inoculations until the end of march — a decision fortunately revised to mid-February but either way, Australia is months behind the global efforts to start vaccinating, and it suggests Australia’s regulatory agencies are not currently prepared to act as quickly as needed in a future pandemic. An international comparison shows how drastic the regulatory backlog is down under:

The United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (approved an effective COVID19 vaccine on December 2. By early January the same regulator allowed two additional vaccines to be used by doctors, nurses, and pharmacists around the country. And while the UK was the fastest to approve these highly needed vaccines, other countries followed quickly and managed to roll out mass vaccination at lightspeed. The UK, EU, Japan and Canada are rolling out vaccines, and as of writing three Middle Eastern countries spearhead the global race to immunize wide parts of society; Israel has vaccinated nearly one-fifth of its population, with a plan to have every citizen vaccinated by the end of March, the United Arab Emirates have provided 9 per cent of its resident with at least one jab, and Bahrain holds the third place with having reached 4 per cent of its people so far. 

Despite the international success of vaccine rollouts, and the opportunity it presents to save both lives and the economy on which people’s lives depend, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration initially announced that it will approve the first vaccine only by late March 2021. That is nearly four months later than the UK’s or United States’ approval. Prime Minister Morrison has now announced that they will bring the approval forward to mid- or late-February but that still is still over a month longer than it needs to be  

These continued delays show the dangerous exceptionalism Australia’s government applies in this global public health crisis. Can the government really justify prolonged lockdowns, COVID cases, and deaths if there are already multiple effective vaccines used across developed countries?  There is no reason for the TGA to come to different conclusions than the UK’s MHRA, the US’ FDA, and the EU’s EMA: Australians are not a separate species who will somehow react differently and need additional studies. Bureaucratic inertia and a refusal to alter rigid timetables despite the circumstances, and a nationalist belief Australians need to do everything ourselves, is a degree of arrogance that comes at a great cost.   

Australians should demand mutual recognition of vaccine approvals (also called reciprocity) in vaccine approval with all regulatory agencies based in OECD countries. The costs of delaying the vaccination rollout are simply too high to justify the ongoing arrogance of the TGA. Given that all reputable medicines agencies across the OECD have already given their blessing, patients in Australia should receive immediate access to immunization shots. 

As a new and more virulent strain of Covid-19 has already begun circulating in Australia, the need for a vaccine has become even more urgent, particularly given evidence released today has proven the vaccine is effective against this mutation. Future COVID cases, deaths, and economic bankruptcies could be quickly prevented if the government acts swiftly by burying its ego. In addition, the next pandemic is likely to come sooner than later. A more agile vaccine approval system needs to be in place by then, so we can quickly respond to any potential future challenges. Reciprocity among OECD countries is an easy fix. Accepting our partners approval of vaccines is Australia’s quick and easy way out of the current situation and will ensure a swift and safe return to normal.

Admitting Australian’s don’t have to do everything ourselves will save lives and is the only moral course of action for the Government to take.  

Fred Roeder is a health economist and Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center. Tim Andrews is the Founder of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and presently Director of Consumer Issues at Americans for Tax Reform.  

Originally published here.

How West Virginia, one of America’s poorest and most rural states, became a leader in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine

By comparison, Canada’s vaccine rollout has been glacial

Every health-care professional qualified to give a needle, draw blood or provide other vaccines, should be authorized to give the COVID-19 vaccine, writes David Clement. PHOTO BY MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES

The average Canadian doesn’t know much about West Virginia. For most of us, familiarity with the state is limited to cheap stereotypes or John Denver’s classic country music song “Take me home, country roads.” Little did we know that the Mountain State, ignored by many, would end up a leader in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine.

While Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was battling it out on Twitter with Liberals over who should get priority vaccinations, West Virginia delivered, and offered, a COVID-19 vaccine to every single person currently residing in a long-term care home. You read that right. Every single person who wanted the vaccine, in each and every one of West Virginia’s 214 long-term care homes, has been vaccinated. West Virginia’s rollout has been so successful it will start vaccinating teachers and school staff next week.

To do a better job rolling out the vaccine, Canadian provinces should follow West Virginia’s lead

Canadians should be both astonished and outraged. The virus has killed more than 16,000 of our fellow citizens, and more than 80 per cent of those deaths have been people living in long-term care homes. How has West Virginia, one of the United States’ poorest and most rural states, accomplished the seemingly impossible?

First off, it sidestepped Operation Warp Speed’s recommendation for two main vaccine facilitators (CVS and Walgreens). Instead, it decentralized as much as it could and partnered with hundreds of pharmacies, both independent and chain, to deliver and administer the vaccines in long-term care homes. Pharmacies with sufficient cold storage and backup generators were mobilized in a hub-and-spoke model that tasked each pharmacy with ensuring local long-term care vaccinations. This, alongside the state’s not getting too bureaucratic about its priority schedule, helped these pharmacies take only two weeks to give every single long-term care resident their first dose of the vaccine. This hub-and-spoke model, coupled with the less rigid priority schedule, allowed for the state to be far more dynamic, which is why the rollout was 50 per cent quicker than originally planned.

By comparison, Canada’s vaccine rollout has been glacial. Our federal government was late to procure vaccines, and although it overcompensated by mass-purchasing vaccines from virtually all providers, we’re too far down most providers’ lists to get supplies quickly. Provinces have also dropped the ball. Ontario, for example, made the mistake of pausing vaccinations over the Christmas break, as if the virus has any regard for our holiday schedule. Our long-term care workers were certainly in need of a holiday break, but couldn’t other qualified professionals have helped fill the gap over the holidays?

When we compare Canada with our international counterparts, the depressing nature of our reality sets in. As of Jan. 8, we were vaccinating approximately 31 times slower than Israel, 15 times slower than the United Arab Emirates, seven times slower than Bahrain, three times slower than the U.K., 2.8 times slower than the U.S., 2.8 times slower than Denmark, 2.3 times slower than Iceland, and 1.2 times slower than Slovenia and Italy. If the trend continues, almost all of Europe could pass Canada within the next seven to 10 days.

To do a better job rolling out the vaccine, Canadian provinces should follow West Virginia’s lead. We should call in pharmacies and other health-care providers to help so that we exhaust our supply as soon and safely as possible. Every health-care professional qualified to give a needle, draw blood or provide other vaccines, should be authorized to give the COVID-19 vaccine. Going this route ensures we have as many access points as possible, at each stage, which in turn means we aren’t left twiddling our thumbs while provincial authorities stumble their way through the rollout.

A more rapid rollout that exhausts supply as quickly as possible puts more pressure on the federal government to ensure quicker delivery for the vaccine orders it has secured. Right now, the two levels of government are pointing fingers at each other. A faster provincial rollout would prevent Ottawa from passing the buck on its procurement responsibilities. That’s exactly the position West Virginia is in right now. When the state’s “COVID czar,” Dr. Clay Marsh, was asked what Washington could do to help, his response was simple: “Give us more vaccines!”

Because of vaccines the end of the pandemic is in view. Canadians have accepted a lot during the COVID crisis. They will not accept that we have so few doses and can’t seem to administer the short supply we do have. Politicians at both levels of government need a kick in the pants. Looking at West Virginia could and should get things moving in the right direction.

David Clement is North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published here.

Réglementation sur les créneaux horaires dans l’aviation: la concurrence doit primer

La Commission européenne a encore une fois prolongé la dérogation à la réglementation des créneaux horaires. Applaudie comme étant une aide au secteur, cette dérogation garantit encore une fois l’avantage aux entreprises établies leur permettant de contourner la concurrence. Comment est-ce que le secteur aérien peut s’améliorer si à chaque crise nous dépensons l’argent du contribuable pour le sauver.

Le secteur aérien distribue une partie des créneaux horaires commes des réservations de route. Ceci s’applique de façon générale aux aéroports les plus utilisés. Par exemple, la compagnie X réserve un aller-retour depuis un aéroport et sera contrainte par cette réservation. Cela veut dire que l’avion devra partir, même s’il n’y a pas de passagers, afin de garantir la place de la compagnie sur ce créneau horaire. Ceci provoque ce qu’on a nommé des “ghost flights” (vols fantômes), où les compagnies envoient des avions vides afin de ne pas perdre leur place. Cette réglementation avait été créée afin d’éviter une concentration dans le secteur aérien. A titre d’exemple, une compagnie pourrait réserver tous les créneaux disponibles dans un aéroport spécifique (si elle a le cashflow nécessaire), afin d’empêcher toute concurrence.

Au début de la crise du COVID-19, la Commission européenne avait décidé d’une dérogation à cette réglementation. A court terme, ceci fût une bonne décision. Par contre, une nouvelle extension de la dérogation est un non-sens, car la concurrence, même si amoindrie par la pandémie, existe tout de même. Les créneaux horaires des aéroports sont rares, et c’est pourquoi ils sont si précieux et doivent être utilisés de la manière la plus efficace possible. Bien que conçue  par de nobles objectifs, la politique de la Commission implique que les compagnies aériennes sont les seules propriétaires des créneaux horaires.

La dérogation actuelle à l’obligation de voler n’expirera qu’en mars 2021. De nombreuses associations ont demandé à la Commission de prolonger la dérogation “pour éviter que des avions vides ne volent” ainsi qu’afin que  “les vols soient effectués de la manière la plus optimale possible pour éviter de la pollution inutile”. Toutefois, la prolongation créerait une situation dans laquelle les plus grandes compagnies aériennes auraient la possibilité de monopoliser les créneaux horaires, rendant impossible l’entrée des plus petites. Cela explique pourquoi les compagnies à bas prix comme Wizz Air s’opposent à la prolongation à cette dérogation, la qualifiant d’anticoncurrentielle et que “cela entraverait plutôt que n’aiderait à la reprise de l’industrie aéronautique de l’UE et, par conséquent, des économies européennes”. 

Si la Commission n’a certainement pas l’intention de protéger les grandes compagnies aériennes en renonçant à l’obligation de détenir des créneaux horaires, c’est cependant une conséquence évidente de cette décision. La propriété des créneaux horaires dans les aéroports ne devrait pas être statique. Au contraire, elle devrait faire l’objet d’une rotation constante entre les compagnies aériennes afin de garantir l’attribution la plus efficace possible des installations et d’encourager une utilisation responsable des aéroports. La règle “use-it-or-leave-it” est, en ce sens, juste et équitable, et devrait être maintenue à tout moment.

L’aviation a changé notre vie à bien des égards. Maintenant que les consommateurs de toute l’Europe ont pu goûter à la vie sans voyager, ils souhaiteraient prendre l’avion davantage, et non moins, une fois la pandémie passée. La Commission européenne devrait veiller à ce que les consommateurs aient la possibilité de choisir entre plusieurs compagnies aériennes, en tenant compte de leurs contraintes budgétaires. Pour y parvenir, les grandes compagnies et les compagnies à bas prix doivent être traitées sur un pied d’égalité et se faire concurrence pour les créneaux horaires dans les aéroports.

Le secteur de l’aviation peut être soutenu par l’allégement des taxes locales sur les compagnies aériennes et par des mesures de déréglementation. Cependant, ce genre de mesures doit être équitable pour tous, afin de garantir un maximum de concurrence et par ce biais, de choix pour les consommateurs.

ВООЗ змінює курс – тепер радить не вдаватись до локдаунів

Попри те, що ВООЗ закликає країни утримуватися від введення локдаунів, багато урядів продовжують використовувати цю стратегію.

Попри те, що ВООЗ закликає країни утримуватися від введення локдаунів, багато урядів продовжують використовувати цю стратегію. Український – поки в роздумах.

Наслідки пандемії COVID-19 завдали нищівного удару економіці багатьох країн і нашій, підірвали наші особисті та економічні свободи, що стали жертвами пандемії так само, як і наше здоров’я. Відповідно до результатів одного дослідження, в найближчі п’ять років локдауни можуть нам всім коштувати 82 трильйони доларів у світовому масштабі – приблизно стільки ж, скільки наш річний глобальний ВВП.

В Україні внаслідок першої хвилі пандемії третина компаній втратили 50-75% доходів, майже 45% – до половини доходів, ще 7% опитаних розглядали варіант закриття бізнесу (за результатами травневого опитування Європейської Бізнес Асоціації).

Локдауни весною були обґрунтовані рекомендаціями Світової Організації Охорони Здоров’я. У квітні генеральний директор ВООЗ лікар Тедрос Адханом Гебреєс закликав країни не виходити з локдаунів, поки хвороба не буде під контролем.

Але зараз, більше шість місяців з тих пір, як локдауни стали улюбленим політичним інструментом ба, ВООЗ закликає їх припинити. Лікар Девід Набарро, спеціальний посланник ВООЗ з питань COVID-19, минулого тижня заявив журналісту Spectator UK Ендрю Нілу, що політики помилялися, використовуючи локдаун як “основний метод контролю” для боротьби з COVID-19.

“Локдауни мають лише один наслідок, який ми ніколи не повинні нівелювати: вони роблять бідних людей набагато біднішими”, – сказав Набарро.

Доктор Майкл Райан, директор Програми ВООЗ з надзвичайних ситуацій у галузі охорони здоров’я, розділив такий підхід. “Ми хочемо і можемо уникнути масових локдаунів, які нищать громади, суспільство та все інше”, – сказав містер Райан, виступаючи на брифінгу в Женеві.

Чути такі заяви від організації, яка була ключовим авторитетом і моральним голосом, відповідальним за вирішення глобальної реакції на пандемію, є достатньо приголомшливо.

Рекомендації ВООЗ стали підставою всіх національних та локальних обмежень не тільки в Україні, несучи загрозу повернути 150 мільйонів людей по всьому світу до екстремальної бідності. Як зазначив Набарро, переважна більшість людей, які постраждали від локдаунів, були якраз бідні і ті, кому і так було тяжко зводити кінці з кінцями перед пандемією.

Кожен з нас напевно знає людей, чий бізнес збанкротував, або які втратили роботу через локдаун. Особливо це стосується сфер торгівлі та громадського харчування, які були знищені політикою локдаунів.

І навіть коли ВООЗ закликає країни утримуватися від нав’язування локдаунів, багато урядів продовжують використовувати цю стратегію. Як це все розвинеться в Україні – поки не відомо. Але, наприклад в багатьох штатах США, школи залишаються закритими, так само, як бари і ресторани, а великі збори – окрім протестів – засуджуються та закриваються силою.

Вплив тривалих локдаунів на молодих людей стає все більш очевидним. Недавнє дослідження, проведене в Единбурзькому університеті, говорить про те, що закриття шкіл збільшить кількість смертей через COVID-19. До того ж у дослідженні йдеться про те, що локдауни “подовжують епідемію, в деяких випадках приводячи до більшої кількості смертей на тривалий термін”.

Якщо ми хочемо зменшити вже завдану шкоду і не допустити нової, не треба більше локдаунів. Взагалі треба скептично ставитись до способів боротьби з пандемією чия ціна перевищує їхню потенційну користь.

Божевілля має закінчитися. Не лише тому, що так говорить ВООЗ, а тому, що від цього залежить наше життя і наше майбутнє.

Як зазначили лікарі та науковці у Великій декларації Баррінгтона, підписаній цього місяця в штаті Массачусетс, “локдауни самі по собі мали руйнівний вплив на фізичне та психічне здоров’я, і ці наслідки себе проявлять в короткостроковій та довгостроковій перспективі.”

Ми не можемо продовжувати ризикувати своїм добробутом, закриваючи економіку та людей. Це єдиний шлях вперед, якщо ми прагнемо оговтатися від руйнівних наслідків урядової політики навколо COVID-19.

Статтю написано у співавторстві з  Яелем Оссовскі, заступником директора Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published here.

The BBC can’t resist speculating on the science

In this column (26 September), I pointed out that the National Trust’s new ‘Gazetteer’ of its 93 properties linked with slavery and ‘colonialism’ was not so much a scholarly documentation as ‘a charge sheet and a hit list’. Once the organisation entrusted with the care of a building denigrates that building’s most famous occupants, logic suggests it will care for the building less well than for that of an occupant it admires. This logic is already starting to work through. The National Trust owns Thomas Carlyle’s house in Chelsea, but now it has closed it ‘until further notice’, whereas all the other small houses of the Trust in London will reopen in March. For the first time since it was opened to the public in 1895, the place will have no live-in housekeeper. Although not stated, the reason for this downgrading would seem to be Carlyle’s racial views. When it does reopen, members are promised ‘a different visitor experience’. If you click on the Trust’s website entry for the house, you can listen to a podcast entitled ‘Think a Likkle: Lineage of Thought’ by Ellie Ikiebe, who is a New Museum School trainee at the National Trust. She appears not to have visited 24 Cheyne Row until making the podcast, but she knows what she wants to do with Carlyle. ‘If we truly acknowledged the lineage of thought, popular society would see the links between colonialism, white supremacy to the injustice of Breonna Taylor death and the black lives matter movement’, she says. She is ‘shifting the narrative to under-represented histories’. The ‘hidden history’ here is that Carlyle was a racist. His ‘lineage of thought’, which she wishes people to ‘break from’, is that white men dictate what we think. Two thoughts strike me. The first is that the history of Carlyle’s views has never been hidden: he has always been intensely controversial, and critics have alleged that some of his views assisted, long after his death, the development of fascist thought. The second is that a charity which publishes such a hostile piece by someone who appears not to know much about the subject is not a fit body to look after his heritage.

When Peregrine Worsthorne died last week, my mind went back to February 1986. There was great excitement at that time about the state of British newspapers. Rupert Murdoch was defeating the print unions at Wapping and the talk was of an entirely new, independent paper starting. (It did: it was called, suitably, the Independent.) At the same time, Conrad Black had finally gained complete control of the Telegraph group and was about to appoint his own editors. Owned by Australians and therefore observing from the touchline, The Spectator (which I was then editing) tried to analyse the situation mischievously. Who better to do so, I thought, than Perry Worsthorne? He was by far the Sunday Telegraph’s most famous writer at the time, and could be relied on to make trouble. When I commissioned him to write the article, Perry grinned in a slightly furtive way, and agreed. The following day — entirely without my foreknowledge or expectation — he was announced as the next editor of the Sunday Telegraph.

So the cover piece Perry produced (‘The Battle for Good Journalism’, 1 March 1986) turned into his manifesto. ‘I never thought any proprietor would make me editor’, he wrote, because editing in the era of the print union tyranny had meant an endless battle for survival, with little chance to reflect. But perhaps the happier commercial climate would allow room for ‘a writing and thinking editor’. He imagined ‘a latter-day Dr Johnson’: the paper would be ‘highly intelligent but also commonsensical, authoritative as well as readable; high-principled, without being in the least moralistic… There would be plenty of idiosyncratic opinion and shafts of dazzling originality.’ To a remarkable degree, Perry the editor achieved his aim, though I would take out the word ‘commonsensical’, which he rarely was, and add the word ‘fearless’, which he was all the time. His experiment ended prematurely, due to managerial anxieties, but it was splendid and gallant while it lasted. In his final years (he died aged 96), bedridden and almost completely lost to the world, beautifully looked after by his wife Lucy, who kept telling him (it was the truth) how handsome he was, Perry retained his dandified courage.

Last week, this September was pronounced the hottest ever worldwide. Seeking, as ever, to dramatise the story, the BBC reporter Roger Harrabin ended thus on Radio 4 News: ‘Scientists warn these extremes are happening with just one degree of heating globally, when under the current projected rate of carbon emissions, we’re heading towards three degrees.’ His sentence raised more questions than it answered. Which scientists? One degree of heating over what period? Who is responsible for the currently projected rate of carbon emissions he cites? When will their projected rise of three degrees be reached? And how do we know that the September ‘extremes’ he described — wildfires in California, half a metre of rain falling in a day in France — were caused by the one degree warming he mentioned? That single sentence was a neat encapsulation of the Harrabin method — moving deftly from probable fact (the September global figure) to imagined trend, to full-scale, undated catastrophe. The Reverend Mr Harrabin is always preaching that the end is nigh, but it is more than his job’s worth to say when.

Sensing when it began that Covid-19 would deprive people of many small pleasures and freedoms, I kept one or two things which would remind me of them, on a multum in parvo principle. I have a press release from the senior policy analyst at the Consumer Choice Center, an ‘advocacy group’, issued in mid-March. Its headline is ‘Greece banning snuff in times of emergency is undemocratic and cruel’. Hear! Hear! Sadly, even more undemocratic and cruel things have happened since then.

Originally published here.

WHO Reverses Course, Now Advises Against Use of ‘Punishing’ Lockdowns

Even as the WHO calls on nations to refrain from imposing lockdowns, many governments continue to use this strategy.

For months, an overwhelming majority of the planet’s population has been subject to cruel and unnerving lockdowns: businesses closed, travel restricted, and social gatherings kept to a minimum.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have sunk our economies, kept loved ones apart, derailed funerals, and made personal and economic liberty a casualty as much as our health. One report states it could cost us $82 trillion globally over the next five years – roughly the same as our yearly global GDP.

Many of these initial lockdowns were justified by policy recommendations by the World Health Organization.

The WHO’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, writing in a strategy update in April, called on nations to continue lockdowns until the disease was under control.

But now, more than six months since lockdowns became a favored political tool of global governments, the WHO is calling for their swift end.

Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO’s Special Envoy on COVID-19, told Spectator UK’s Andrew Neil last week that politicians have been wrong in using lockdowns as the “primary control method” to combat COVID-19.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” said Nabarro.

Dr. Michael Ryan, Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, offered a similar sentiment.

“What we want to try to avoid – and sometimes it’s unavoidable and we accept that – but what we want to try and avoid is these massive lockdowns that are so punishing to communities, to society and to everything else,” said Dr. Ryan, speaking at a briefing in Geneva. 

These are stunning statements from an organization that has been a key authority and moral voice responsible for handling the global response to the pandemic.

Cues from the WHO have underpinned each and every national and local lockdown, threatening to push 150 million people into poverty by the end of the year.

As Nabarro stated, the vast majority of the people harmed by these lockdowns have been the worse off.

We all know people who have lost their businesses, lost work, and seen their life savings go up in smoke. That’s especially true for those who work in the service and hospitality industries, which have been decimated by lockdown policies.

And even as the WHO calls on nations to refrain from imposing lockdowns, many governments continue to use this strategy. Schools in many US states remain closed, bars and restaurants are off-limits, and large gatherings–apart from social justice protests–are condemned and shut down by force.

The effects of the prolonged lockdowns on young people are now becoming more clear. A recent study from Edinburgh University says keeping schools shut down will increase the number of deaths due to COVID-19. Added to that, the study says lockdowns “prolong the epidemic, in some cases resulting in more deaths long-term.”

If we want to avoid any more harm, we should immediately end these disastrous policies. Any fresh calls to impose lockdowns should now be viewed with the utmost skepticism.

It’s time for the madness to end. Not only because the World Health Organization says so, but because our very lives depend on it.

As the doctors and scientists stated in the Grand Barrington Declaration signed this month in Massachusetts, the “physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies” have themselves caused devastating effects on both short and long-term health.

We cannot continue to risk our health and well-being in the long-term by shutting in our economies and our people in the short-term. That’s the only way forward if we seek to recover from the ruinous effects of government policy surrounding COVID-19.

Originally published here.

CANZUK treaty a potential economic vaccine to the Covid depression

David Clement writes that the potential CANZUK treaty would give Canada, NZ, Australia, and the UK the benefits of the EU’s common market, without the bureaucratic overreach that led to Brexit.

The toll of COVID-19 on the lives and livelihood of Canadians has been devastating. Canada’s economy has taken a huge hit, and our fiscal position is set to decline from bad to worse. To counter that, Canada needs a pro-growth strategy that boldly takes us in a new direction.

One policy that would help enable Canada’s growth and boost our nation’s morale is CANZUK. CANZUK is a proposed free movement and free trade deal that would unite Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Specifically, the agreement would allow for free trade, free movement, and foreign policy coordination between the member states. In a nutshell, CANZUK represents all of the benefits of a European Union-style common market, without the negatives that drove Brexit. CANZUK would increase trade and movement through a common market, without an overreaching central government, multinational regulatory board, and the negative externalities that come from a common currency. 

Citizens of each of these nations would be able to make investments, cross borders, take up residence, study, and sell their products.

For economic growth, CANZUK would turbocharge the economy, and we know this from the European example. Prior to the creation of the EU common market in 1993, European free trade was estimated to increase GDP by 4.5-6.5 per cent. Luckily for Europeans, those projections fell short, with GDP growth from EU free trade increasing GDP growth by 8-9 per cent. And while the economy of CANZUK will be smaller than the economy of the EU, it isn’t a stretch to forecast similar GDP growth as a result of a CANZUK deal. Even at half or a quarter of that growth, CANZUK would be great for the Canadian economy. And, unlike in the EU, CANZUK doesn’t come with the regulatory barriers of a central government, like in Brussels. 

A CANZUK trading bloc wouldn’t just interconnect these four countries whose collective GDP is more than $7 trillion. A CANZUK deal would allow for these four countries to punch above their weight on the world stage, which is increasingly more important with the rise of China, and the growing desire to decouple relations with Beijing. 

Together, the CANZUK bloc could be more aggressive in their free trade push in Asia, specifically with target markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Together, CANZUK would allow for each country to recommit to free trade internationally, without further deepening ties with China and the Chinese Communist Party. In the post-COVID world of geoeconomic statecraft, CANZUK puts Canada on a more solid footing.

In regards to labour, CANZUK would provide immense benefits to Canadian employees, and Canadian employers, because it comes with a professional designation and licensing recognition that would connect more Canadians with opportunities around the world. 

As a result of CANZUK, Canadian professionals could freely take jobs in each of the other countries, and employers could attract talent from abroad. Take mining for example. If our mining sector was struggling, Canadian resource workers could take open positions in Australia’s large mining sector. Laid off Canadian oil and gas workers could take their experience to the UK’s resource sector in the North Sea. And of course, all of this could run the other way to the benefit of Canadian employers. 

On mobility, CANZUK would allow for hassle-free tourism between member states and would give retirees easy access to different destinations for their retirement. It would open up Canadian universities to students from abroad and would put member state universities within reach for Canadians. 

CANZUK would allow for better collaboration on foreign policy matters, providing Canada with a more comprehensive diplomatic alliance and complementing our existing agreements in NATO. Canada would continue to be a favorite nation on the world stage.

For those who aren’t familiar with CANZUK, the concept might sound far-fetched, but when over 13,000 citizens of the four countries were polled, respondents in each prospective member state overwhelmingly supported the idea of a free movement agreement. Kiwis at 83 per cent, Canadians at 76 per cent, Australians at 73 per cent, and the British at 68 per cent.

While it may be fashionable to use the pandemic as an opportunity to turn Canada inward, doing so would be poor economic policy. CANZUK gives us the opportunity to shift in the opposite direction, and recommit ourselves to a more global, and more interconnected, Canada. 

David Clement is a columnist with the Western Standard and the North American Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.

Nous n’avons pas besoin de plus d’impôts pour réagir à la crise du COVID-19

La crise du COVID-19 continue et les fonds anti-crise se gonflent. Afin de proposer une relance directe, quelques pays européens prennent la décision raisonnable de réduire les charges fiscales, tandis que d’autres veulent les augmenter. Il est évident qu’une fiscalité simplifiée et réduite donnerait le boost nécessaire aux consommateurs et aux entreprises. Comment convaincre les décideurs de changer de route?

Il n’y a rien d’incroyable à déclarer que la crise sanitaire du COVID-19 a permis à beaucoup de bords politiques d’imposer des propositions politiques qui nécessitent une crise pour convaincre l’opinion public. Inimaginable il y a un an, le Conseil européen a accepté de faire un emprunt européen  et de lever des taxes européennes. Nous voilà en début d’automne avec un débat politique bien changé et une discussion de solidarité qui nous rappelle la crise de 2008.

En plein milieu de la dernière crise financière, les décideurs politiques demandaient aux citoyens de faire un effort. Taxe de crise spéciale, augmentation de l’impôt sur le revenu, taxe retenue à la source (qui a frappé de façon inéquitable les différents épargnants), puis augmentation de la TVA en 2014 de 15 à 17%. En même temps, l’endettement de l’Etat central est restée bien en-dessus des 20% du PIB (qui représente plus que le double de la celle du début du siècle). Il s’avère que l’augmentation des moyens de l’Etat central ne s’est pas fait en coordination avec une rigueur budgétaire accrue. On a pu observer ce phénomène depuis les années 2000 jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

L’Allemagne a au contraire décidé d’une réduction temporaire de la TVA jusqu’au 1er janvier, de 19 à 15%, respectivement de 7 à 5% pour le taux réduit. Depuis ce mois-ci, les consommateurs irlandais bénéficient d’une réduction de la TVA de 23 à 21%. Sachant  que la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée est la taxe la plus injuste pour les consommateurs, pourquoi ne pas mettre en place une pareille mesure au Luxembourg ?

l convient également de comprendre deux leçons économiques importants. Premièrement, d’après les travaux de  Laffer, nous savons qu’une réduction d’impôts ne coïncide pas forcément avec une réduction des recettes. Deuxièmement, il est important de savoir que des réduction d’impôts sans des réductions de dépenses n’auront que peu d’effets.. 

Il convient de rappeler que l’Etat en tant que tel n’est pas une entité génératrice de richesse. Pour financer ses activités, il doit puiser des ressources dans le secteur privé. Ce faisant, il affaiblit le processus de création de richesses et compromet les perspectives de croissance économique réelle.

Comme l’Etat n’est pas une entité génératrice de richesse, toute réduction d’impôts alors que les dépenses publiques continuent d’augmenter ne va pas soutenir une véritable croissance économique. Or, la relance budgétaire pourrait “fonctionner” si le flux d’épargne réelle est suffisamment important pour soutenir, c’est-à-dire financer, les activités de l’Etat tout en permettant un taux de croissance des activités du secteur privé. Si la baisse des impôts s’accompagne d’une diminution des dépenses publiques, les citoyens auront plus de moyens de réactiver la création de richesse. Ainsi nous aurons une véritable reprise économique. 

Cette logique s’applique à la réduction des impôts des entreprises, qui surtout en temps de crise, n’est pas une mesure populaire. Pourtant, ceux qui attaquent une telle réduction se trompent. Ils s’appuient sur une vision à somme nulle du monde dans laquelle les gains des uns sont considérés comme un préjudice pour les autres. Ils supposent que les propriétaires de sociétés profitent de la quasi-totalité des avantages des réductions d’impôts sur les sociétés. Ils s’appuient sur des données très faussées pour étayer leurs arguments ainsi qu’une mauvaise compréhension du fonctionnement de l’économie.

La vision à somme nulle ignore le fait que les accords volontaires de marché profitent à tous les participants. Par conséquent, l’augmentation des échanges commerciaux mutuellement bénéfiques, tout comme la réduction de la fiscalité, profite à la fois aux acheteurs et aux vendeurs. En revanche, punir les vendeurs par des taxes plus élevées les incite également à faire moins avec leurs ressources au service qu’ils rendent aux autres.

La réduction de l’impôt sur les sociétés permet d’améliorer  les techniques de production, la technologie et le montant des investissements en capital, ce qui accroît la productivité et les revenus des travailleurs. Cette réduction augmente les incitatifs à la prise de risque et à l’esprit d’entreprise au service des consommateurs. Cela réduit les importantes distorsions causées par l’impôt, et ces changements profitent aux  travailleurs et aux consommateurs.

Les plans de recouvrement centralisées montreront très peu de résultats, car l’Etat, dans sa structure centralisée, est incapable de savoir ce que les gens veulent réellement. Si nous voulons combattre les effets des fermetures liées au COVID-19, il faut libérer les capacités entrepreneuriales des citoyens, et réduire les obstacles réglementaires auquels les entreprises font face.

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